Last fall, the editors of The Architect’s Newspaper spent a week in Venice reporting on the architecture biennale. One of our fondest Venetian memories—the few times we could afford them—was moving around La Serenissima in water taxis. As we’ve noted before, the Venetian water taxi is the world’s most elegant form of public transportation: hand-made wooden motor boats with tuck-and-rolled leather seating, customized canvas hoods, and spit-shined wooden hulls and decks. Well, the editors are headed back to Italy, this time for Milan’s Saloni di Mobile.
Since the Obamas moved to Washington, we’ve been waiting for the administration to make good on its promises for new government policy on architecture and planning. There may be hope yet: While the president spends his days in Europe with politicians, Michelle has been making the rounds of innovative social centers. Building Design caught the first lady with Ivan Harbour and Richard Rogers at their Maggie’s Centre in Hammersmith, London. Let’s hope she was as impressed with the architecture of the centre—promoted by its co-founder Charles Jencks—as with its innovative programming for women with cancer.
The Venice biennale was founded in 1895 in one of La Serenissima’s few green spaces, the Giardini di Castello. It has occupied a random series of buildings in the park, which include national pavilions (the Belgians built the first in 1907 and the U.S. joined the party in 1930) and an undistinguished hall called the Italian pavilion since the late 1930s. Today the organization that operates the biennales (art, architecture, film etc.) announced plans to change the name of the Italian pavilion in the giardini to the Palazzo delle Esposizioni della Biennale and upgrade its aging infrastructure. While these changes will be welcome by the public, the spaces are all being designed by artists, not architects. Read More
Buried deep in a New York Times article on Fiat’s proposed alliance with sad old Chrysler is a detail that will make many architects happy. As part of the deal, Chrysler will build small cars for the American market, like the Cinquecento-styled Fiat 500. But more to the design point, Chrysler will also start building Alfa Romeos for the domestic market. As it has long been the favorite of architects—from the Italian Futurists to Craig Hodgetts—let’s hope the design of the new Alfas remains in Italy with Bertone and Pininfarina. And not in Detroit.
The National September 11 Memorial and Museum has just announced that it has been given Minoru Yamasaki’s final presentation model (he built 108 different prototypes) of the World Trade Center Tower Project. It has been donated by the American Architectural Foundation in Washington, D.C., where the model is currently on view until January 15. Read More
Courtesy Netherlands Society for Nature and the Environment
OMA and Rem Koolhaas have released an ambitious plan for the North Sea that would produce all the electricity for Dutch households via offshore wind power before 2020. Commissioned by the Netherlands Society for Nature and the Environment, the plan would create North Sea wind parks as a “sustainable battery for Europe.” Read More
Morigami Jin’s Reclining II
It’s hard enough to see all the gallery exhibitions devoted to architecture in any given New York City week, but if I also try to visit design shows, it takes every waking moment. (I missed the top floor of MoMA’s Home Delivery show, for god’s sake, even though I caught the prefabs on West 54th Street.) New Bamboo: Contemporary Japanese Masters at the Japan Society is a show I read about in the A/N diary and kept thinking: “I should run up and see this.” Well, it closes on Sunday, Read More